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05 February 2016


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The question was in a manner of joke--they have a somewhat (well, a lot) in common in face features, albeit Mezvinsky looks weirder. That struck me silly a little bit. I apologize for confusion.


Sorry, correction--I meant Mizintzev of Russia's GOU of General Staff.




Don't make the mistake of thinking that industrial production = military capacity. pl


1. US GDP is inflated grossly. It is still larger than Russia's and by a lot, but I hope you understood my sarcasm about Facebook?

2. GDP which matters (and even that is not the end) is PPP (Purchasing Power Parity), here, Russia's GDP is 3.6 trillion. Sorry to break it to you, but since we are at the military discussion, for Russia a very advanced SU-35C does not cost $65 million (as it is offered to China), but something around $12-15 million. That is why Russia today builds simultaneously 7 advanced SSGNs and SSBNs, not to mention 4 already in IOC, and feels quite all right. US PPP index is about 18.2 trillion.


18.2 / 3.6 = 5.05.

Now comes this very important fact which can give you a bit of the insight. It is not just GDP (PPP), it is GDP's structure that matters and here, as an example, China depends almost 70% on....Japan for her guidance systems. Russia, effectively, depends on nobody in her vast spectrum of weapons--she simply produces them all. How this happens? History (a real one) could give some answers. Now, some mental forensic experiment: I charged you 5 bucks and scratched your back, after that, you charged me 5 bucks and scratched mine. You know what Goldman-Sachs will count it as? As 10 bucks of GDP produced. In reality, however, we produced much-much less than that, if not zero altogether. Did our mutual scratching of the backs contribute to our military power? No. But I am pretty sure that some dude with Ivy League "degree" in some crap would be able to make a killing on IPO from this transaction on Wall Street. Someone may even get a Nobel Prize in economics modelling that.



What I'm gathering is that the Russians have a very capable and efficient military industry. I recognize that they've had a large arms export business for a long time.

I was remarking that they are demonstrating serious expeditionary capabilities in Syria. Not sure they have the capacity to move and support huge ground forces thousands of miles away. And at the end of the day their Syrian involvement is rather small in terms of equipment and forces and financial commitment.


That's my take as well.


On CNN tonight, they touted the possible entry of Saudi armed forces into Syria as a really big deal, as if the Saudis were a veritable Wehrmacht, ready to blitz through IS and end the Syrian problem. They obviously haven't been reading SST or other sites that detail the real state of Saudi forces. It was really appalling to watch that and think that this is what passes for a major U.S. media outlet. And even more appalling to think this is what the powers that be think.



It would be rather sad and feed hopelessness if the Borgist candidates Hillary and Rubio get nominated. While I'm philosophically far from Sanders, I prefer him to any Borgista. We'll see how the people in SC, NV and those voting on Super Tuesday say. Let's see how Trump and Sanders do in those states.


40% of US GDP is from the financial industry…which doesn't produce anything. It's an extraction machine.

So 40% of US GDP is vapor.



"a veritable Wehrmacht?" This fantasy must be the result of all the BS about an Arab coalition leading the way. pl


You produced 4 dollars in taxes by scratching each others back. And few cents of those could be spend on military =)


Yep, sounds about right. Albeit, I would dare to say that it is closer to 50% and then some due to all those financial toys as inflation and export of it elsewhere through a bunch of financial "tools". But even this gives some point of reference. Actually, any visit to Walmart (or Macy's) gives some insight into the real state of the affairs.



Ah, I was told today that two brigades of the 101st Airborne Division are going to Iraq, not just one. This probably is related to the Saudi Juggernaut. pl


it's not only that.

Remember what Putin said about Turkey in his Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly.

Some highlighted points to consider.

"We will never forget their collusion with terrorists. We have always deemed betrayal the worst and most shameful thing to do, and that will never change. I would like them to remember this – those in Turkey who shot our pilots in the back, those hypocrites who tried to justify their actions and cover up for terrorists.

I don’t even understand why they did it. Any issues they might have had, any problems, any disagreements even those we knew nothing about could have been settled in a different way. Plus, we were ready to cooperate with Turkey on all the most sensitive issues it had; we were willing to go further, where its allies refused to go. Allah only knows, I suppose, why they did it. And probably, Allah has decided to punish the ruling clique in Turkey by taking their mind and reason.

Our actions will always be guided primarily by responsibility – to ourselves, to our country, to our people. We are not going to rattle the sabre. But, if someone thinks they can commit a heinous war crime, kill our people and get away with it, suffering nothing but a ban on tomato imports, or a few restrictions in construction or other industries, they’re delusional. We’ll remind them of what they did, more than once. They’ll regret it. We know what to do."

I think this is part of that. It's part of Russia's revenge.


moonofalabama posted about this back then.



Col. Lang,

Does Saudi Arabia even have the forces available? They appear quite tied up in Yemen.

- Eliot



How would you interpret this? Quote:

Moments ago, the Syrian Arab Army imposed full control over Al-Naymah town after a blitz offensive was launched east from Daraa city during the evening hours. ... According to a source close to Al-Masdar, the Syrian Arab Army’s 38th Brigade of the 5th Armored Division stormed the defensive positions of Jabhat Al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) inside Al-Naymah which quickly forced Islamist rebels to flee east towards Sayda town. Reconnaissance by the Syrian security forces indicate than the rebel defensive line inside Al-Naymah had been heavily thinned out due to a major redeployment to Sheikh Meskin two weeks ago and subsequent loss of manpower at Daraa city. This explains how the Syrian Arab Army was able to capture the town without meeting much resistance. ...



I checked this news item, and it looks to me like it's true.

What do you think: Are the rebels in Daraa province that short of manpower - or did they just make a mistake?


That oversized financial industry can also operate as a military wing... a few bucks in the right place at the right time can buy you a friend, or start a regime change.

Exactly how effective those Weapons of Mass Destabilization are in practice is hard to say. In Libya they easily destabilized the country, but haven't done much to actually win anything. They just left a mess behind. Egypt is not a whole lot better.

I accept Turcopolier's argument that sooner or later you need to take it to the ground game; the other factors are support for that but cannot replace it. The US tried to get their "boots on the ground" working in Iraq and Afghanistan but really struggled with bad management, bad planning, poor choice of local allies.

The other thing you need for any large scale project is a good idea of what you intend to achieve and why. Often I doubt whether the US even has that much.



Regarding the Saudi Arabia offer to send its ground troops to Syria when the US leads, I think it's a quite transparent attempt to help Adelson's darling Rubio in New Hampshire. Rubio wants to win there, and policy regarding Syria may be a critical factor in the primary.

Rubio has Arab ground troops for Syria in his programm, and opponents said, that's unrealistic. So, now Rubio can say: see, the arabs already offered grund troops. my programm is perfectly realistic.

A couple of weeks ago, the Saudis announced their non-existent "islamic coalition" to fight against ISIS. That was directly before a major Republican presidential TV debate. Rubio then used the Saudi statement in the debate to tell people how realistic his foreign policy ideas are.

Now we have version 2.0 of that transparent Saudi attempt to boost Rubio's chances for the nomination with hot Saudi propaganda air. I think it's quite transparent.


How GDP is computed is known. And even PPP has its flaws. I agree GDP is not a good yardstick because it's focus is consumption. We see how silly pursuit of GDP gets with millions of vacant apartments in China or theories that unbridled growth in government spending leads to prosperity since it will increase aggregate demand. However, in any comparison there's got to be a common yardstick. You will not get any argument from me decrying importance of manufacturing. Nor that financialization of an economy improves capital formation and reduces risk. However, the sign of a vibrant system is not just their ability to manufacture within their borders advanced military equipment. The technology evolution curve requires continual intellectual property development. That requires an environment where entrepreneurs can incubate ideas and capital flows to innovation. Now, you may think Facebook is frivolous, but the hundreds of millions who use it everyday may disagree. You may also believe a composition created by a musician has no value, but to those who listen to that artist it may be quite different. Are you saying that Tchaikovsky and Tolstoy did not contribute any value? The question is where is most of the value being created? In the conception and design or the physical manufacturing? The software content of systems is rising. Just look at autos or aircraft. Major innovations are taking place in molecular biology that require very little traditional industrial manufacturing.

Look, while the Soviet Union had great academies of science and math, and developed prowess in space and military technology they were unable to provide their people with an equivalent standard of living compared to the west. What good is all that capability if the people had to line up all day to get the basics. Their system imploded ultimately. Today, where do you think entrepreneurs and engineers and scientists from around the world want to come to create their dreams?

The Unready

I think you are completely underestimating the number of civillians in rebel-held Aleppo. Even the immediate frontlines are populated by a desperate few - many people have nowhere to go and have no desire to live in a camp even if they had the means to get there. Also, empty homes get broken into and everything is stolen or squatted. A recent Turkish estimate is 300,000. Even that seems low to me.

What i know is that there are markets, traffic, schools etc.. life goes on.


When last I saw the part of the "Saudi Wehrmacht" I was working with, it was mostly out of uniform during duty hours and playing graba$$ with each other. But that was decades ago. Perhaps they have become more fearsome since then.



The Houthis don't seem to think so. pl


Saudis have already made themselves obnoxious to the Syrians.Some won't be going home. Here's a story of how the locals dealt with the remaining Saudis when the siege of those two towns was lifted.
'Most remnant terrorist rodents fled, ignoring the orders of their mostly Saudi commanders. I have been informed by a giggling Wael that the Saudi trash was taken out to alleyways and beheaded on the spot by angry citizens. It was glorious.'



Isn't Queensland the tropical north of Australia? Crocodile Dundee country? What do you do there? "Weapons of Mass Destruction" are defined as chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. Which of these were employed in Libya? pl


I'm not surprised. Everybody in southwest Saudi - including members of the "Wehrmacht" - was terrified of the Yemenis who came into town in their garlanded long hair, huarache sandals, skirts, short swords, and jackets which often concealed a pistol in a shoulder holster. But the terror was hidden behind a smug arrogance about Yemen's poverty.

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